Marlins' Brad Ziegler, closer on the brink

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<a class="link rapid-noclick-resp" href="/mlb/players/8262/" data-ylk="slk:Brad Ziegler">Brad Ziegler</a> could be losing his grip on the Miami closing gig. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)
Brad Ziegler could be losing his grip on the Miami closing gig. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)

Brad Ziegler made his sixth appearance of the season for Miami on Saturday and picked up his third loss. So that’s not ideal. Ziegler has already allowed ten hits and seven runs (six earned) over 6.2 innings. He successfully converted his lone save chance, but he’s given up runs in half of his appearances.

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Meanwhile, Ziegler’s primary setup men rank among the most valuable non-closing relievers for fantasy purposes. Check the numbers:

Kyle Barraclough – 5.2 IP, 11 K, 3.18 ERA, 0.88 WHIP
Drew Steckenrider – 7.2 IP, 10 K, 0.00 ERA, 0.78 WHIP

Barraclough is owned in just 24 percent of Yahoo leagues and Steckenrider is at 6 percent, which seems remarkably light. Both relievers are roster-worthy simply for their ratios; Barraclough’s career K/9 is 12.3 and Steckenrider’s is a ridiculous 13.6. Go get these guys, particularly if you’re speculating on potential future closers.

Ziegler hasn’t lost the ninth inning gig just yet, of course. Saturday’s loss was mostly about poor luck on balls in play, with two bunts included. No one made loud contact against him. Ziegler’s frustration was clear enough, postgame:

It’s getting old making good pitches, getting the ball on the ground all day and giving up runs every time I’m out there. It just gets old.

It does indeed.

Ziegler is a ground-ball specialist who relies on his defense more than most high-leverage relievers, and the contact rates against him so far this season are as expected. We’re not saying he’s completely cooked. But with three Ls now in the books and a pair of fire-breathers setting up for the Marlins, we have to consider Ziegler to be among the most at-risk closers in the game. Again, Barraclough and Steckenrider need to be much more heavily owned.

Just in case we need to convince you that even bad teams — like, say, the 2018 Miami Marlins — still produce useful fantasy closers, please note that every team in the N.L. last season generated at least 32 saves. The 71-win Padres gave us 45. In a competitive fantasy league, you can’t ignore any team’s bullpen.

Follow the Yahoo fantasy baseball crew on Twitter: Andy Behrens, Dalton Del Don, and Scott Pianowski

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